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What boots it, then, in every clime,
Through the wide-spreading waste of time,
Thy martial glory, crowned with praise,
Still shone with undiminished blaze?
Thy towering spirit now is broke,
Thy neck is bended to the yoke.
What foreign arms could never quell,
By civil rage and rancour fell.
The rural pipe and merry lay
No more shall cheer the happy day:
No social scenes of gay delight
Beguile the dreary winter night:
No strains but those of sorrow flow,
And nought be heard but sounds of wo,
While the pale phantoms of the slain
Glide nightly o'er the silent plain.
Oh! baneful cause, oh! fatal morn,
Accursed to ages yet unborn!
The sons against their father stood,
The parent shed his children's blood.
Yet, when the rage of battle ceased,
The victor's soul was not appeased:
The naked and forlorn must feel
Devouring flames and murdering steel!
The pious mother, doomed to death,
Forsaken wanders o'er the heath,
The bleak wind whistles round her head,
Her helpless orphans cry for bread;
Bereft of shelter, food, and friend,
She views the shades of night descend:
And stretched beneath the inclement skies,
Weeps o'er her tender babes, and dies.
While the warm blood bedews my veins,
And unimpaired remembrance reigns,
Resentment of my country's fate
Within my filial breast shall beat;
And, spite of her insulting foe,
My sympathising verse shall flow:
Mourn, hapless Caledonia, mourn Thy banished peace, thy laurels torn.'
JOHN ARMSTRONG, the friend of Thomson, of Mallet, Wilkes, and other public and literary characters of that period, is now only known as the author of a didactic poem, the Art of Preserving Health, which is but little read. Armstrong was son of the minister of Castleton, a pastoral parish in Roxburghshire. He studied medicine in Edinburgh, and took his degree of M.D. in 1732. He repaired to London, and became known by the publication of several fugitive pieces and medical essays. A very objectionable poem, the Economy of Love, gave promise of poetical powers, but marred his practice as a physician. In 1744 appeared his 'Art of Preserving Health,' which was followed by two other poems, Benevolence and Taste, and a volume of prose essays, the latter indifferent enough. In 1760 he was appointed physician to the forces in Germany; and on the peace in 1763, he returned to London, where he practised, but with little success, till his death, September 7, 1779, in the 70th year of his age. Armstrong seems to have been an indolent and splenetic, but kind-hearted man— shrewd, caustic, and careful (he left £3000, saved out of a small income), yet warmly attached to his friends. His portrait in the 'Castle of Indolence' is in Thomson's happiest manner :
With him was sometimes joined in silent walk
(Profoundly silent, for they never spoke)
One shyer still, who quite detested talk;
Oft stung by spleen, at once away he broke
To groves of pine and broad o'ershadowing oak;
There, inly thrilled, he wandered all alone,
And on himself his pensive fury wroke,
Nor ever uttered word, save when first shone
The glittering star of eve- Thank Heaven, the day is
Warton has praised the Art of Preserving Health' for its classical correctness and closeness of style, and its numberless poetical images. In general, however, it is stiff and laboured, with occasional passages of tumid extravagance; and the images are not unfrequently echoes of those of Thomson and other poets. The subject required the aid of ornament, for scientific rules are in general bad themes for poetry, and few men are ignorant of the true philosophy of life, however they may deviate from it in practice. That health is to be preserved by temperance, exercise, and cheerful recreation, is a truth familiar to all from infancy. Armstrong, however, was no ascetic philosopher. His motto is, take the good the gods provide you,' but take it in moderation.
When you smooth
The brows of care, indulge your festive vein
In cups by well-informed experience found
The least your bane, and only with your friends.
The effects of over-indulgence in wine he has finely described:
But most too passive, when the blood runs low,
Too weakly indolent to strive with pain,
And bravely by resisting conquer fate,
Try Circe's arts; and in the tempting bowl
Of poisoned nectar sweet oblivion swill.
Struck by the powerful charm, the gloom dissolves
In empty air; Elysium opens round,
A pleasing phrenzy buoys the lightened soul,
And sanguine hopes dispel your fleeting care;
And what was difficult, and what was dire,
Yields to your prowess and superior stars:
The happiest you of all that e'er were mad,
Or are, or shall be, could this folly last.
But soon your heaven is gone: a heavier gloom
Shuts o'er your head; and, as the thundering stream,
Swollen o'er its banks with sudden mountain rain,
Sinks from its tumult to a silent brook,
So, when the frantic raptures in your breast
Subside, you languish into mortal man ;
You sleep, and waking find yourself undone.
For, prodigal of life, in one rash night
You lavished more than might support three days.
A heavy morning comes; your cares return
With tenfold rage. An anxious stomach well
May be endured; so may the throbbing head;
But such a dim delirium, such a dream,
Involves you; such a dastardly despair
Unmans your soul, as maddening Pentheus felt,
When, baited round Citharon's cruel sides,
He saw two suns, and double Thebes ascend.
In prescribing as a healthy situation for residence
a house on an elevated part of the sea-coast, he
indulges in a vein of poetical luxury worthy the en-
chanted grounds of the Castle of Indolence:'
The sounding forest fluctuates in the storm;
Oh! when the growling winds contend, and all
To sink in warm repose, and hear the din
Above the luxury of vulgar sleep.
Howl o'er the steady battlements, delights
The murmuring rivulet, and the hoarser stram
Of waters rushing o'er the slippery rocks,
Will nightly lull you to ambrosial rest.
To please the fancy is no trifling good,
Where health is studied; for whatever moves
The mind with calm delight, promotes the just
And natural movements of the harmonious frame.
All who have witnessed or felt the inspiriting effects
of fine mountain scenery on invalids, will subscribe
to the truth so happily expressed in the concluding
lines of this passage. The blank verse of Armstrong
somewhat resembles that of Cowper in compact-
ness and vigour, but his imagination was hard and
literal, and wanted the airy expansiveness and
tenderness of pure inspiration. It was a high merit,
however, to succeed where nearly all have failed, in
blending with a subject so strictly practical and
prosaic, the art and fancy of the poet. Much learn-
ing, skill, and knowledge are compressed into his
poem, in illustration of his medical and ethical doc-
trines. The whole is divided into four books or
divisions--the first on air, the second on diet, the
third on exercise, and the fourth on the passions. In
his first book, Armstrong has penned a ludicrously
pompous invective on the climate of Great Britain,
'steeped in continual rains, or with raw fogs be-
dewed.' He exclaims-
Ere yet the fell Plantagenets had spent Their ancient rage at Bosworth's purple field. In the second, Armstrong introduces an apostrophe to his native stream, which perhaps suggested the more felicitous ode of Smollett to Leven Water. It is not unworthy of remark, that the poet entirely
overlooks the store of romantic association and ballad - poetry pertaining to Liddisdale, which a mightier than he, in the next age, brought so prominently before the notice of the world.
[Recommendation of Angling.]
But if the breathless chase o'er hill and dale
Exceed your strength, a sport of less fatigue,
Not less delightful, the prolific stream
Affords. The crystal rivulet, that o'er
A stony channel rolls its rapid maze,
Swarms with the silver fry: such through the bounds
Of pastoral Stafford runs the brawling Trent;
Such Eden, sprung from Cumbrian mountains; such
The Esk, o'erhung with woods; and such the stream
On whose Arcadian banks I first drew air;
Liddel, till now, except in Doric lays,
Tuned to her murmurs by her love-sick swains,
Unknown in song, though not a purer stream
Through meads more flowery, or more romantic groves,
Rolls towards the western main. Hail, sacred flood!
May still thy hospitable swains be blest
In rural innocence, thy mountains still
Teem with the fleecy race, thy tuneful woods
For ever flourish, and thy vales look gay
With painted meadows and the golden grain;
Oft with thy blooming sons, when life was new,
Sportive and petulant, and charmed with toys,
In thy transparent eddies have I laved;
Oft traced with patient steps thy fairy banks,
With the well-imitated fly to hook
The eager trout, and with the slender line
And yielding rod solicit to the shore
The struggling panting prey, while vernal clouds
And tepid gales obscured the ruffled pool,
And from the deeps called forth the wanton swarms.
Formed on the Samian school, or those of Ind,
There are who think these pastimes scarce humane;
Yet in my mind (and not relentless I)
His life is pure that wears no fouler stains.
[Pestilence of the Fifteenth Century.]
Ere yet the fell Plantagenets had spent
Their ancient rage at Bosworth's purple field;
While, for which tyrant England should receive,
Her legions in incestuous murders mixed,
And daily horrors; till the fates were drunk
With kindred blood by kindred hands profused:
Another plague of more gigantic arm
Arose, a monster never known before,
This rapid fury not, like other pests,
Reared from Cocytus its portentous head;
Pursued a gradual course, but in a day
Rushed as a storm o'er half the astonished isle,
And strewed with sudden carcases the land.
First through the shoulders, or whatever part
Was seized the first, a fervid vapour sprung;
With rash combustion thence, the quivering spark
Shot to the heart, and kindled all within;
And soon the surface caught the spreading fires.
Through all the yielding pores the melted blood
Gushed out in smoky sweats; but nought assuaged
The torrid heat within, nor aught relieved
[Wrecks and Mutations of Time.]
What does not fade? The tower that long had stood The stomach's anguish. With incessant toil,
The crush of thunder and the warring winds,
Shook by the slow but sure destroyer Time,
Now hangs in doubtful ruins o'er its base,
And flinty pyramids and walls of brass
Descend. The Babylonian spires are sunk;
Achaia, Rome, and Egypt moulder down.
Time shakes the stable tyranny of thrones,
And tottering empires rush by their own weight.
This huge rotundity we tread grows old,
And all those worlds that roll around the sun;
The sun himself shall die, and ancient night
Again involve the desolate abyss,
Till the great Father, through the lifeless gloom,
Extend his arm to light another world,
And bid new planets roll by other laws.
Desperate of ease, impatient of their pain,
They tossed from side to side. In vain the stream
Ran full and clear, they burnt, and thirsted still.
The restless arteries with rapid blood
Beat strong and frequent. Thick and pantingly
The breath was fetched, and with huge labourings
At last a heavy pain oppressed the head,
A wild delirium came: their weeping friends
Were strangers now, and this no home of theirs.
Harassed with toil on toil, the sinking powers
Lay prostrate and o'erthrown; a ponderous sleep
Wrapt all the senses up: they slept and died.
In some a gentle horror crept at first
O'er all the limbs; the sluices of the skin
Withheld their moisture, till by art provoked
The sweats o'erflowed, but in a clammy tide;
Now free and copious, now restrained and slow;
Of tinctures various, as the temperature
Had mixed the blood, and rank with fetid streams:
As if the pent-up humours by delay
Were grown more fell, more putrid, and malign. Here lay their hopes (though little hope remained), With full effusion of perpetual sweats
To drive the venom out. And here the fates
Were kind, that long they lingered not in pain.
For, who survived the sun's diurnal race,
Rose from the dreary gates of hell redeemed;
Some the sixth hour oppressed, and some the third.
Of many thousands, few untainted 'scaped;
Of those infected, fewer 'scaped alive;
Of those who lived, some felt a second blow;
And whom the second spared, a third destroyed.
Frantic with fear, they sought by flight to shun
The fierce contagion. O'er the mournful land
The infected city poured her hurrying swarms:
Roused by the flames that fired her seats around,
The infected country rushed into the town.
Some sad at home, and in the desert some
Abjured the fatal commerce of mankind.
In vain; where'er they fled, the fates pursued.
Others, with hopes more specious, crossed the main,
To seek protection in far distant skies;
But none they found. It seemed the general air,
From pole to pole, from Atlas to the east,
Was then at enmity with English blood;
For but the race of England all were safe
In foreign climes; nor did this fury taste
The foreign blood which England then contained.
Where should they fly? The circumambient heaven
Involved them still, and every breeze was bane:
Where find relief? The salutary art
Was mute, and, startled at the new disease,
In fearful whispers hopeless omens gave.
To heaven, with suppliant rites they sent their
Heaven heard them not. Of every hope deprived,
Fatigued with vain resources, and subdued
With woes resistless, and enfeebling fear,
Passive they sunk beneath the weighty blow.
Nothing but lamentable sounds were heard,
Nor aught was seen but ghastly views of death.
Infectious horror ran from face to face,
And pale despair. 'Twas all the business then
To tend the sick, and in their turns to die.
In heaps they fell; and oft the bed, they say,
The sickening, dying, and the dead contained.
'Faery Queen,' and which Thomson had almost wholly discarded in his Castle of Indolence.' The first stanza of this poem has been quoted by Sir Walter Scott (divested of its antique spelling) in illustration of a remark made by him, that Mickle, 'with a vein of great facility, united a power of verbal melody, which might have been envied by bards of much greater renown :'
An admirable translation of The Lusiad' of Camoens, the most distinguished poet of Portugal, was executed by WILLIAM JULIUS MICKLE, himself a poet of taste and fancy, but of no great originality or energy. Mickle was son of the minister of Langholm, in Dumfriesshire, where he was born in 1734. He was engaged in trade in Edinburgh as conductor, and afterwards partner, of a brewery; but he failed in business, and in 1764 went to London, desirous of literary distinction. Lord Lyttelton noticed and encouraged his poetical efforts, and Mickle was buoyed up with dreams of patronage and celebrity. Two years of increasing destitution dispelled this vision, and the poet was glad to accept the situation of corrector of the Clarendon press at Oxford. Here he published Pollio, an elegy, and The Concubine, a moral poem in the manner of Spenser, which he afterwards reprinted with the title of Syr Martyn. Mickle adopted the obsolete phraseology of Spenser, which was too antiquated even for the age of the
Awake, ye west winds, through the lonely dale,
And Fancy to thy faery bower betake;
Even now, with balmly sweetness, breathes the gale,
Dimpling with downy wing the stilly lake;
Through the pale willows faltering whispers wake,
And Evening comes with locks bedropped with dew;
On Desmond's mouldering turrets slowly shake
The withered rye-grass and the harebell blue,
And ever and anon sweet Mulla's plaints renew.
Sir Walter adds, that Mickle, 'being a printer by profession, frequently put his lines into types without taking the trouble previously to put them into writing.' This is mentioned by none of the poet's biographers, and is improbable. The office of a corrector of the press is quite separate from the Mickle's mechanical operations of the printer. poem was highly successful (not the less, perhaps, because it was printed anonymously, and was ascribed to different authors), and it went through three editions. In 1771 he published the first canto of his great translation, which was completed in 1775; and being supported by a long list of subscribers, was highly advantageous both to his fame and fortune. In 1779 he went out to Portugal as secretary to Commodore Johnston, and was received with much distinction in Lisbon by the countrymen of Camoens. On the return of the expedition, Mickle was appointed joint agent for the distribution of the prizes. His own share was considerable; and having received some money by his marriage with a lady whom he had known in his obscure sojourn at Oxford, the latter days of the poet were spent in ease and leisure. He died at Forest Hill, near Oxford, in 1788.
The most popular of Mickle's original poems is his ballad of Cumnor Hall, which has attained additional celebrity by its having suggested to Sir Walter Scott the groundwork of his romance of Kenilworth.* The plot is interesting, and the versification easy and musical. Mickle assisted in Evans's Collection of Old Ballads (in which Cumnor Hall' and other pieces of his first appeared); and though in this style of composition he did not copy the direct simplicity and unsophisticated ardour of the real old ballads, he had much of their tenderness and pathos. A still stronger proof of this is afforded by a Scottish song, the author of which was long unknown, but which seems clearly to have been written by Mickle. An imperfect, altered, and corrected copy was found among his manuscripts after his death; and his widow being applied to, confirmed the external evidence in his favour, by an express declaration that her husband had said the song was his own, and that he had explained to her the Scottish words. It is the fairest flower in his poetical chaplet. The delineation of humble matrimonial happiness and affection which the song presents, is almost unequalled
Sae true his words, sae smooth his speech, His breath like caller air!
His very foot has music in
As he comes up the stair.
Sir Walter intended to have named his romance Cumnor
Hall, but was persuaded by Mr Constable, his publisher, to adopt the title of Kenilworth.
'Mong rural beauties I was one;
Among the fields wild flowers are fair; Some country swain might me have won, And thought my passing beauty rare. But, Leicester (or I much am wrong), It is not beauty lures thy vows; Rather ambition's gilded crown
Makes thee forget thy humble spouse.
Then, Leicester, why, again I plead
(The injured surely may repine), Why didst thou wed a country maid,
When some fair princess might be thine? Why didst thou praise my humble charms, And, oh! then leave them to decay? Why didst thou win me to thy arms, Then leave me to mourn the live-long day!
The village maidens of the plain Salute me lowly as they go: Envious they mark my silken train, Nor think a countess can have wo.
The simple nymphs! they little know How far more happy's their estate; To smile for joy, than sigh for wo;
To be content, than to be great.
How far less blessed am I than them,
Daily to pine and waste with care!
Like the poor plant, that, from its stem
Divided, feels the chilling air.
Nor, cruel Earl! can I enjoy
The humble charms of solitude; Your minions proud my peace destroy, By sullen frowns, or pratings rude.
Last night, as sad I chanced to stray,
The village death-bell smote my ear;
They winked aside, and seemed to say,
"Countess, prepare-thy end is near."
And now, while happy peasants sleep,
Here I sit lonely and forlorn;
No one to soothe me as I weep,
Save Philomel on yonder thorn.
My spirits flag, my hopes decay;
Still that dread death-bell smites my ear; And many a body seems to say,
"Countess, prepare-thy end is near."'
Thus sore and sad that lady grieved
In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear; And many a heartfelt sigh she heaved,
And let fall many a bitter tear. And ere the dawn of day appeared,
In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear, Full many a piercing scream was heard, And many a cry of mortal fear.
The death-bell thrice was heard to ring, An aërial voice was heard to call, And thrice the raven flapped his wing Around the towers of Cumnor Hall. The mastiff howled at village door,
The oaks were shattered on the green; Wo was the hour, for never more
That hapless Countess e'er was seen. And in that manor, now no more
Is cheerful feast or sprightly ball; For ever since that dreary hour
Have spirits haunted Cumnor Hall. The village maids with fearful glance, Avoid the ancient moss-grown wall; Nor ever lead the merry dance Among the groves of Cumnor Hall.
Now prosperous gales the bending canvass swelled;
From these rude shores our fearless course we held:
Beneath the glistening wave the god of day
Had now five times withdrawn the parting ray,
When o'er the prow a sudden darkness spread,
And slowly floating o'er the mast's tall head
A black cloud hovered; nor appeared from far
The moon's pale glimpse, nor faintly twinkling star;
So deep a gloom the lowering vapour cast,
Transfixed with awe the bravest stood aghast.
Meanwhile a hollow bursting roar resounds,
As when hoarse surges lash their rocky mounds;
Nor had the blackening wave, nor frowning heaven,
The wonted signs of gathering tempest given.
Amazed we stood-O thou, our fortune's guide,
Avert this omen, mighty God, I cried;
Or through forbidden climes adventurous strayed,
Have we the secrets of the deep surveyed,
Which these wide solitudes of seas and sky
Were doomed to hide from man's unhallowed eye?
Whate'er this prodigy, it threatens more
Than midnight tempest and the mingled roar,
When sea and sky combine to rock the marble shore.
I spoke, when rising through the darkened air,
Appalled we saw a hideous phantom glare;
High and enormous o'er the flood he towered,
And thwart our way with sullen aspect lowered.
Unearthly paleness o'er his cheeks was spread,
Erect uprose his hairs of withered red;
Writhing to speak, his sable lips disclose,
Sharp and disjoined, his gnashing teeth's blue rows;
His haggard beard flowed quivering on the wind,
Revenge and horror in his mien combined;
His clouded front, by withering lightning scared,
The inward anguish of his soul declared.
His red eyes glowing from their dusky caves
Shot livid fires: far echoing o'er the waves
His voice resounded, as the caverned shore
With hollow groan repeats the tempest's roar.
Cold gliding horrors thrilled each hero's breast;
Our bristling hair and tottering knees confessed
Wild dread; the while with visage ghastly wan,
His black lips trembling, thus the Fiend began:
"O you, the boldest of the nations, fired
By daring pride, by lust of fame inspired,
Who, scornful of the bowers of sweet repose,
Through these my waves advance your fearless prows,
Regardless of the lengthening watery way,
And all the storms that own my sovereign sway,
Who 'mid surrounding rocks and shelves explore
Where never hero braved my rage before;
Ye sons of Lusus, who, with eyes profane,
Have viewed the secrets of my awful reign,
Have passed the bounds which jealous Nature drew,
To veil her secret shrine from mortal view,
Hear from my lips what direful woes attend,
And bursting soon shall o'er your race descend.
With every bounding keel that dares my rage, Eternal war my rocks and storms shall wage; The next proud fleet that through my dear domain, With daring search shall hoist the streaming vane, That gallant navy by my whirlwinds tost, And raging seas, shall perish on my coast. Then He who first my secret reign descried, A naked corse wide floating o'er the tide Shall drive. Unless my heart's full raptures fail, O Lusus! oft shalt thou thy children wail; Each year thy shipwrecked sons shalt thou deplore, Each year thy sheeted masts shall strew my shore.'
He spoke, and deep a lengthened sigh he drew, A doleful sound, and vanished from the view; The frightened billows gave a rolling swell, And distant far prolonged the dismal yell; Faint and more faint the howling echoes die, And the black cloud dispersing leaves the sky.
DR JOHN LANGHORNE, an amiable and excellent clergyman, has long lost the popularity which he possessed in his own day as a poet; but his name nevertheless claims a place in the history of English literature. He was born at Kirkby Steven, in Westmoreland, in 1735, and held the curacy and lectureship of St John's, Clerkenwell, in London. He afterwards obtained a prebend's stall in Wells cathedral, and was much admired as a preacher. He died in 1779. Langhorne wrote various prose works, the most successful of which was his Letters of Theodosius and Constantia; and, in conjunction with his brother, he published a translation of Plutarch's Lives, which still maintains its ground as the best English version of the ancient author. His poetical works were chiefly slight effusions, dictated by the passion or impulse of the moment; but he made an abortive attempt to repel the coarse satire of Churchill, and to walk in the magic circle of the drama. His ballad, Owen of Carron, founded on the old Scottish tale of Gil Morrice, is smoothly versified, but in poetical merit is inferior to the original. The only poem of Langhorne's which has a cast of originality is his Country Justice. Here he seems to have anticipated Crabbe